LINCOLN BLVD — Residents living on or near the bustling Lincoln Boulevard want to see less graffiti, trash, auto repair shops and massage parlors and more cafes, sit-down restaurants, boutiques and trees, according to survey results released this week by the Lincoln Boulevard Task Force.
With the goal of making Lincoln Boulevard “safe, clean, beautiful and green,” the task force, which is supported by four nearby neighborhood groups, released two surveys — one for residents and the other for merchants — allowing them to sound off on what they hope to see in the future.
“Until conducting the surveys, we had little data to guide our efforts,” said task force chair Roger Swanson, who lives within a block of Lincoln Boulevard. “Now thanks to 638 residents, 91 percent residing south of [Interstate 10], … and 15 percent of the businesses along Lincoln, we have data to support transformation.”
While this is debatable, there are those who feel Lincoln is the most neglected road in Santa Monica as it was formerly under the control of the California Department of Transportation, which had little money or desire to make streetscape improvements. Since City Hall gained control of a portion of Lincoln Boulevard last year, there is hope that the major north-south artery can be improved so that it is more pedestrian friendly and aesthetically appealing.
Changes are already taking place. Code compliance officers with City Hall have been out in force removing abandoned news racks and there are plans to pave the boulevard and plant more trees in the coming months. A movement fueled by local artists called Beautify Lincoln is also helping. Artists have been creating colorful murals on the walls of businesses between Ocean Park and Pico boulevards.
“A lot can be done today that is the responsibility of the city,” Swanson said, referring to more frequent trash collection and cracking down on threats to public safety.
Much of what the data show was common knowledge, Swanson said. Lincoln is congested and appears to be neglected and over-represented by auto-serving businesses. Those who filled out the surveys said they want city officials to focus on public safety, weeds and trash, graffiti and homelessness.
Residents want more restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and other neighborhood-serving businesses. They also would consider relaxing parking requirements for these businesses.
Merchants said they want more off-street/shared parking and join residents in expressing a desire for more street amenities like smart crosswalks with flashing lights to make it safer for those on foot, better street and sidewalk lighting and more trash cans.
One area where the two groups disagreed was bus-priority lanes. A majority of residents said they would support them while 74 percent of merchants surveyed said no. Additional parking and support from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to extend a bus-priority lane to LAX to decrease travel times for riders may help turn that tide, Swanson said.
Adding trees and landscaping in general, adding landscaped medians, and adding bus and biking amenities, all received strong support, as did adaptive re-use of existing buildings for new businesses.
Something that “jumped out” at Swanson was that 65 percent of people surveyed agreed that new buildings should be kept at three stories tall, particularly at the corner of Ocean Park and Lincoln boulevards where there is currently an Albertsons market and other businesses. That area has been identified as an activity center where future development may occur and there is a fear that denser buildings will be erected, creating more traffic congestion.
“Traffic is a defining issue,” Swanson said.
Only 37 percent of residents said they were in favor of more affordable housing.
As city officials move forward with plans for Lincoln, the task force will continue reaching out to residents and business owners to keep them engaged and provide feedback.
“The community voiced their opinions and we are listening,” Swanson said.
To read the complete survey, visit www.opa-sm.org/